Every week I am going to take a question and answer it. If you have a question or questions feel free to submit it here: https://servantsofgrace.org/contact/ and it will be answered either on the website or privately. This week’s question is, “What does the word “neglect” in Hebrews 2:3 mean, and how can I have increased assurance of my salvation?”
The key word in Hebrews 2:3 is salvation. The term has already been used in Hebrews 1:14, in which the readers are told that all angels are ministering spirits that serve believers (the heirs of salvation). The value of salvation ought never to be underestimated, for its price was the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Jesus is called the author of salvation who brings many sons to glory (2:10). The believer’s salvation is immeasurably great.
As Hebrews 2:2 states, the message of the Old Testament cannot be violated without suffering the consequences. How much more, then (this verse says), ought believers to treasure their salvation. If believers ever ignore the message concerning redemption; it is impossible for them to escape God’s wrath and subsequent punishment. Dr. Guthrie points out that those who care so little about the word of salvation that they neglect it will find no escape from the punishment they deserve.
Dr. O’Brien notes that the warning of “neglect” is real, but conditional; as it is not stated to refute the congregation’s salvation, but to prevent this from happening. Dr. Bruce comments that the author is afraid that his readers may succumb to the pressure to renounce the Gospel by detaching themselves from its public profession until finally the Gospel ceases to have any influence on their lives. Moses generation refused to remain in the covenant, so God allowed them to die in the wilderness (8:9; 2:12-19). Their persistent neglect was in effect a rejection of God’s purposes (Jer. 4:17). Those who do not heed the divine warning will be overtaken by God’ judgment (Matt. 24:37-39; 25:1-12).
The Christian who neglects their salvation fails to give diligence to making their calling and election sure, failing to “press forward” and “run the race.” The perservance of believers ought to increase assurance. Believers who persist in good works that spring from faith will usually attain high levels of assurance, which is why believers must preserve to the end in faith, holiness and obedience. To deny the necessity of perservance is to deny abundant scriptural teaching to the contrary (Heb. 2:1; 3). Such denial will weaken the resolve of the believer to run the Christian race, which, in turn, will open him to the chastening hand of his Father (Heb. 12:1-13).